I would be inclined to do a cost versus benefit analysis for these frugal practices. I don't mean creating a spreadsheet and a set of PowerPoint slides :), just some thought about what they're giving back versus the effort.
For example, re those shampoos:
- takes up space
- causes annoyance and guilt because you don't want to use them.
- if you're like me, causes annoyance because they're difficult to use.
- if you're like me, causes a sort of disoriented annoyance because you go around smelling "wrong" from the fragrances. (That may be just me - I like to smell like products that I've chosen, or not smell at all.)
- if you take extras every day that you're at the hotel, causes more trash, usually including plastic trash, because of the inefficient packaging. (If you didn't take 'em, they'd just leave them there each day and throw out one set when you checked out.)
- money savings.
How much is the money savings? Compared to the really cheap shampoo that comes in a giant bottle for two or four dollars, it's probably less than a nickel per use. You may or may not use fancier shampoo, but since we're talking about you using what you get for free whether you like that product or not, it seems reasonable to compare the cost to the cheap stuff.
So I would argue that the hotel shampoo only wins if money is the one and only factor to consider.
Except, does it win even then? Because "takes up space" can turn into costing money. A lot of extra stuff in the home can result in needing a larger home than otherwise. Or if there's no way you'd go to a smaller home (you have a long-term lease, you own and selling is not reasonable right now, etc.), that stuff occupies space that you might use for other things.
Maybe you could save real money by buying fifty-pound bags of rice and beans, but that idea is impossible because there's no space. Maybe you occasionally lose a library book in a cluttered house and have to pay library fines, or you have to buy takeout because dealing with the house has taken so much time that you don't have time to cook. Maybe if you had more time and freedom from housekeeping you could tend a vegetable garden, or... well, you see the general idea, right? My argument is that a decluttered house doesn't just produce peace of mind, it can save money in many ways.
(And now if you'll turn your attention to the PowerPoint slides.... OK, OK, sorry.)
So I would say that it's good to resist the easy feel-good lure of money savings, and consider that saving in the context of the rest of your home life. Looking at the others:
> I try to get the last drop out of the soap bottle, but until I can do
> it, it's sitting on the counter.
Cost: Annoyance. Time. Clutter. Benefit: Maybe savings of two or three cents two or three times a month. I'd say not worth it; toss it even when you feel that guilt-inducing bit of heavy soap in the bottom.
> The same with tea bags.
Cost: Annoyance. Time. Clutter. Ick factor. Inferior second cup of tea. Benefit: A penny or two. Not worth it, IMO. (Of course, I realize that that's not my call. :)) On the other hand, what about getting a couple of tea strainers and buying tea in bulk? That probably saves money, and it doesn't include the ick factor or the inferior second cup of tea. On the other hand, it is extra time; it may not be worth it.
>I buy in
> bulk, but we don't have enough space to store it properly without
> feeling crammed.
And there you make my argument about the monetary value of space. :) I say, kick out those hotel soaps, and any stuff around the house that's "perfectly good" but for whatever reason you don't use it anyway. But if you don't have room for buying in bulk even after that, then so be it.
> Rubber bands collected in drawers that get all
> tangled up with the spoons stored in it.
I'd suggest putting five or ten rubber bands in a small zip-top bag, pushing that to the back of the spoon drawer, and from then on throwing out rubber bands. When you use one, keep the next one that comes your way. Or maybe you just decide it's not worth saving them, you buy one small bag of rubber bands for a dollar or two and you're out of the rubber-band-worry business for a year or three or six. (I'm curious as to what people use these rubber bands for? - I have none and use none.)
> Is there a way to be both, frugal and organized?
I'd say that every frugal practice needs to be evaluated by the organized brain, and many may need to go, with the constant mental reassurance that organization and clear space saves money, even when you can't see that savings in the moment.
Maybe there are other frugal practices that are both frugal and organized. For example, if you clear enough space to store, say, five-gallon bottles of dish soap and shampoo in the garage, then you can keep refilling the little sink and bathroom bottles, and that "last drop" moment will come up far less often - and maybe you'll have saved enough money on that purchase to worry less about that last drop. If you're buying bottled beverages, you could start making iced tea, throwing out the tea bags merrily with the knowledge that even without using them twice, you're saving a lot. If you cook with canned beans, maybe you could start buying dry and cooking them up yourself. You may already have been doing these for years, or alternatively they may not fit in your life, but I think that they're examples of larger savings practices.